Creature Feature

Wildling

wildling

Her entire life Anna has been locked away in an attic. Her father says it is to keep her safe from the Wildling, a vicious monster who ate all the other children. At the age of 16, Anna ends up free from the attic and taken in by the town sheriff. As she begins to go through the changes of puberty, she faces other changes as well. It seems that the stories Anna was told as a child aren’t quite what they seem.

Fritz Böhm makes his feature film directorial debut, while also having cowrote the film with Florian Eder.This film starts out very promising. It begins by following Anna as a child. This gives the audience time to get to know the character while also seeing her strange upbringing. The filmmakers do a very good job of showing Anna’s childlike innocence, despite her being a teenager, when she finally leaves the safety of her attic for the real world. Everything is new and different, and Anna’s reactions are well-written. There is one specific scene that stands out in particular. In it, Anna goes to a high school party. Afterward, she is pursued and attacked by a beast in the woods, creating a unique take on an attempted rape. The way the scene is shot is absolutely stunning, and it has a powerful message that it sends.

Where the film comes apart is when Anna starts to go through her many physical changes. Much of the issues stem from the visual aspects of the film. As Anna first starts to transform, her face looks shockingly dark. Part of this is due to the prosthetics, and part of it is because the entire film is simply much darker than it should be. When the final transformation is finally revealed, the special effects makeup is very well done. My only issue is that it looks a bit too much like a species of Australopithecus. Whether this was an intentional decision I’m not sure, but it felt like a strange de-evolution instead of a transformation into something new. There is also some poorly executed CGI used to enhance various scenes that not only takes away from the imagery, but it also seems unnecessary.

The second half of the film also has some odd character choices. One of those choices is the arc Anna’s father takes. His character does a complete 180 halfway through the film in a way that doesn’t feel genuine to what audiences have already seen of the character. There is also a character who acts as the “harbinger”, commonly seen in horror. The audience never learns who he is or why he’s there, which makes his presence stand out like a sore thumb. It is unfortunate that these things took away from what began as a truly compelling film.

For the most part the performances are the strongest aspect of this film. Bel Powley (A Royal Night Out, Carrie Pilby) plays the mysterious Anna. What makes Powley’s performance so compelling is how she conveys Anna’s innocence and wonder as she discovers new and exciting things out in the real world. Yet, even with how innocent and naive she is, there is still a noticeable strength within her that comes out more and more as the plot progresses. Liv Tyler (The Strangers, Armageddon) plays the town sheriff, Ellen Cooper. It is great to see Tyler in another horror film, but this is not her strongest performance. It isn’t necessarily bad, but it comes across as though she is simply going through the motions instead of putting any true emotion behind her portrayal. Horror legend Brad Dourif (Child’s Play, Alien: Resurrection) plays Anna’s father known only as “Daddy.” While the writing takes his character all over the spectrum, Dourif still does his best with the material he was given. His performance in the first half of the film, when he is caring for Anna as she grows up, is especially fascinating to watch. No matter what the role, Dourif always gives it his all.

Wildling has a promising start, but it comes apart when Anna’s transformation begins. It feels almost like two different films in one, and this unfortunately leads to multiple plot holes and strange character arcs. The dark coloring of the film and poorly used CGI didn’t help this matter. While the practical effects are well done, there is something about the seeming de-evolution of Anna that makes the transformation feel wrong. Luckily, the strong performances by Powley and Dourif help to carry the film from the compelling beginning to the convoluted end. Although this film may not be the strongest first feature film for Böhm and Eder, it is enjoyable enough that I’m interested to see what they do in the future.

OVERALL RATING: 5.5/10

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Cynthia

cynthia

Robin and Michael are the perfect couple. The only problem is, they can’t seem to get pregnant. The couple resorts to fertility injections mailed in from over seas. After months of trying they finally get pregnant, but along with the baby there seems to be a large cyst. The baby is born healthy, and the doctor removes the cyst. Everything seems fine, but the cyst isn’t just a cyst, and it will do whatever it takes to get back to mommy.

This is a very unexpected film. This is the first film written by Robert Rhine (Road Lawyers and Other Briefs) in almost twenty years. His recent focus has been on his magazine, Girls and Corpses, and this film is a great way for him to make his return. His plot is equal parts ridiculous, hysterical, and gory. Rhine’s script is combined with the directing powers of Devon Downs (Anarchy Parlor) and Kenny Gage (Anarchy Parlor). Fertility issues are something that many women go through, so creating a fun horror film around it not only makes the film relatable, but it also makes it more fun. It is almost as if some of the pressure of trying to get pregnant is taken away by being able to laugh about it in this film. There is an extra layer of hilarity when it comes to seeing such a perfect couple unravel after they get the baby they have always wanted, and seeing how a mother will care for her child no matter what. The film is definitely filled with campiness and dark humor that won’t be for everyone, but horror fans that enjoy a healthy dose of comedy with their gore will likely love this flick.

Cynthia has a cast filled with horror royalty doing what they do best, as well as giving us a few surprises. The leading lady of this film is Scout Taylor-Compton (Halloween, Halloween II) as Robin. There isn’t anything Robin wouldn’t do to have the family she’s always wanted. Taylor-Compton perfectly shows the change in Robin when her family unit doesn’t turn out quite like she planned. Another standout performance of this star-studded film is Sig Haig (The Devil’s Rejects, Razor) as Detective Edwards. This was a very different role for Haig, since fans are used to seeing him as the bad guy, yet he plays a detective very well. Despite his good-guy performance being different than what fans are used to, he still manages to inject a little bit of the classic Haig we know and love. Other noteworthy performances come from Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects), Robert LaSardo (Anarchy Parlor), Kyle Jones (The Boonies), and Rebecca Marshall (Raze). Each and every one of these actors is guaranteed to make you laugh.

The best part of this film is Cynthia herself. The creature design is absolutely brilliant because the filmmakers managed to create something that is both disgusting and cute at the same time. They make you love Cynthia, despite her appearance and the horrific things she does. This design feels slightly reminiscent of the evil baby from Dead Alive, except it is somehow more grotesque and lovable. She was created entirely with practical effects and puppeteers, which makes her all the more endearing. The filmmakers wisely were slow to reveal Cynthia. It is just the right amount of delayed gratification for the audience, because when the full reveal finally happens we are already emotionally invested in this character. The audience becomes attached to her sweet little baby sounds and farts, bringing out our paternal instincts, before seeing how horrific looking she truly is. After seeing this film I can only imagine fans will want their own Cynthia to cuddle with at night.

Cynthia is a campy delight with the most hideously adorably creature ever made. It is really a perfect storm of different horror elements. The film has a fantastic cast, superb creature design, and it is hilarious. The only downside to the film is some of the medical scenes and terminology are off, but since the rest of the film involves a strange baby-creature these inaccuracies are easy to overlook. This film isn’t for everyone, and there are many who will not appreciate the camp or the gore. Still, the comedic approach to telling a story about a couple struggling with fertility will delight audiences everywhere. If this film is coming to a film festival near you, then be sure to check it out.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10

A Quiet Place

quiet

In 2020 the world is taken over by strange and dangerous beings. While the creatures are completely blind, they have a heightened sense of hearing. The human race has been almost entirely wiped out. One family struggles to survive this new world where a single sound could mean death. They have the advantage of knowing sign language, but it might not be enough to remain silent.

There are so many things to love about this film. John Krasinksi (The Office, Away We Go) made sure to have his hand in nearly every aspect of the filmmaking process. He directed the film, co-wrote the script with Bryan Woods (Nightlight) and Scott Beck (Nightlight), and he also stars in the film. The plot focuses more on the family unit rather than the creatures, yet the creatures are quite terrifying. We know generally when they appeared, we know the creatures are blind and hunt using sound, but that’s about it. The filmmakers smartly avoid showing the creatures in full view until fairly far into the film. Many horror films try to over explain the origin of the monsters, but this film allows you to make your own deductions.

Since the monsters hunt with sound, much of the film is in near silence. This makes every sound all the more terrifying, and the entire film has an edge-of-your-seat tension. This also means the words that are spoken have much more impact. Speaking is dangerous, so if anyone in the family says something out loud it is something they find important. The only daughter in the family is deaf. While normally this would be considered an impairment, it actually ends up being a benefit for the family because they could already communicate with sign language before the creatures appeared. This form of communication is likely a large part of what has kept the group alive. The dynamic between the family members and how they live their daily lives in this new world are the driving forces behind the plot. It is a monster movie, but the plot goes much deeper by having compelling characters.

Acting in a film with such a small amount of dialogue takes a lot of talent. An actor has to be able to convey emotions with their face and body language because they are unable to use words. Krasinski is one of the stars of this film playing the father, Lee. A striking aspect of his performance is his ability to convey emotion with his eyes. Krasinski has a very expressive face that serves his portrayal of Lee very well. His real life wife, Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Edge of Tomorrow), plays his wife in the film, Evelyn. Blunt is a very talented actress who shines in every role she does. Her performance in this film really shines when she’s protecting her children. The physical and emotional struggle of trying to remain silent in tense situations is something Blunt portrays very well. The breakout star of the film is Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck) as Regan. Simmonds is deaf in real life, just like her character in the film. Not only is it great that the filmmakers opted to hire a young deaf actress in the role, but Simmonds acts her heart out. She shows that being hearing impaired does not mean you aren’t as strong and capable as anyone else. The entire family feels real and authentic, making the characters ones fans will truly care about.

The creature design in this film is stunning. While the look of the creatures may remind audiences of other creatures from Stranger Things and Cloverfield, there are certain aspects that make them unique. We know the creatures hunt using sound, so naturally there are certain physical aspects to show they have enhanced hearing. These physical features look anatomically plausible, which always makes for a more compelling monster. The creature is masterfully created using CGI effects. The effects look startlingly realistic and include intricate details which would be difficult to achieve without CGI. While the origins and motives for the creatures remain a mystery, they are frightening and fun to watch.

A Quiet Place perfectly uses silence to generate high intensity into this monster flick. While it is suspenseful and exciting, it is also a film about the dynamics between family members in a post-apocalyptic world. The film has strong performances, fantastic creature design, and a unique story. This may be a bit nit-picky, but the biggest fault I find with this film is the very last shot of the film. Something about it feels somewhat out of place with the rest of the film and almost cheapens the previous events a bit. That issue aside, this film is one that every horror fan should see, and it is one that you could even bring your non-horror loving friends to enjoy.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

Annihilation

annihilation

Several months ago a biologist’s husband went on a top secret mission. He suddenly returns, only to fall deathly ill; then, both of them are taken in by the military. The biologist learns her husband was investigating an environmental disaster zone, and no one is sure how he got out. She volunteers, along with four other women, to be the next team to enter what is known as the “Shimmer.” Once inside, they realize the very laws of nature are being rewritten.

Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) directed this film and wrote the screenplay based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel. This is only the second film directed by Garland, but it is clear that he is the next great filmmaker. The plot of this film stands out for several reasons. One is that the film follows a group of five strong, intelligent women. The team consists of a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, a physicist, and a paramedic. Not only are these women physically strong, but they are some of the best in their field. It is great to see this added to the list of recent films focusing on female role models. Another aspect of this film that makes it unique is all the strange and beautiful horrors the team encounters once they enter the Shimmer. Everything we know as natural is altered within the Shimmer, and it results in insane hybrids that shouldn’t be scientifically possible. Some of these hybrids are hypnotically beautiful, others are monstrous and deadly. Finally, the alien threat that caused the Shimmer is another aspect that makes this film stand out. The reason for the alien arrival, and the resulting events, is something rarely seen in sci-fi films. I won’t get too specific, because this is a film you have to see to believe.

While this film is clearly a huge cinematic achievement, it is also not for every viewer. Some of the more abstract scientific themes of the film may not appeal to all audiences. However, this alone shouldn’t ruin the film for viewers. Even if the concepts are a bit complex, it is still a thrilling, often terrifying, and sometimes beautiful film. The excitement alone will hold the attention of most audiences. The other drawback, to certain viewers, will likely be the ending. The film leaves certain questions unanswered, allowing the audience to make their own conclusions. I enjoyed both the strange science of the film and the way Garland chose to end the film, but there will be many people who will not feel this way.

The entire cast is absolutely superb in this film. While each member of the expedition team has stand out moments, there are two who stand out to me as having the strongest performances. Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Jackie) takes over the leading role as biologist and soldier Lena. Portman has always been a talented actress. She brings something a bit different to this performance because not only is her character brilliant, but she was also a soldier. It makes her character uniquely suited for this expedition, and Portman portrays a soldier-like strength that I haven’t seen from her before. Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok, Creed) also shines as the physicist, Josie. Josie is the least mentally stable of the group, and likely should never have been allowed to join the team. Thompson stands out in this role because she gives one of the most unexpected performances, and she reacts to being inside the Shimmer in a very interesting way. It was difficult to pick only two performances, but I would imagine every viewer will have different performances that stand out to them.

This is one of the most visually fantastic films of the year – if not the past several years. The things that happen inside the Shimmer, created in the mind of author VanderMeer, are so bizarre and original. Bringing this to the screen takes an equal amount of imagination and some brilliant CGI. Inside the Shimmer all species, even across different kingdoms, combine to create horrifying hybrids that are often as deadly as they are stunning. CGI is the only way to properly achieve these hybrids, and the work done in this film is positively spectacular. This film is an example of the right way to utilize CGI.

Annihilation is a visionary film that pushes the boundaries of the human imagination. Garland has yet again proven that he is not only a talented screenwriter, but an even more talented director. His talents are perfectly complemented by an extraordinarily talented cast. On top of everything, this film is filled to the brim with the most imaginative imagery, all of it perfectly executed through CGI. While some of the themes will polarize audiences, it is clear that this film is a near-perfect cinematic gem.

OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10

Before I Wake

before i wake

A young couple lost their son in a tragic accident. As a way to cope with their loss they decide to adopt an orphaned young boy. Little does the couple know that this is no ordinary child. Everything he dreams becomes real while he sleeps. It can be beautiful, but his nightmares become just as real as his dreams. The couple must discover the boy’s mysterious past in order to save his life, and their own.

This film built a lot of anticipation for horror fans. It was meant to be released back in 2015, and there were even trailers out as far back as four years ago. Unfortunately, the filmmakers had troubles with the distribution company, and this led to the film being held in legal red tape for far too long. Finally, Netflix was able to get their hands on the film and release it for streaming this year. Between the years of delays and writer/director Mike Flanagan’s previous success with Occulus, people were understandably excited to finally see Before I Wake.

Flanagan created a very interesting and unique story with this film. So many people wish their dreams could come true, but this is a very unique take. The boy doesn’t get to reap the benefits of his dreams coming true, as they only come true while he sleeps. Also, many people don’t take into consideration that, by having their dreams come true, this likely means their nightmares will come true as well. While this is a very interesting, and often frightening concept, what brings the plot to another level is how the couple reacts to the boy’s ability. Losing a child is difficult. When the boy dreams of their son and they are able to hold him again, it’s only natural that the mother would want the boy to dream more about her deceased child. It isn’t until they finally see what happens during the nightmares that the mother realizes she needs to find out how or why this is happening. It makes for a frightening and emotional film. While the emotional side of the film makes the story quite compelling, there are times where it comes across as overly sentimental. That sentimentality also leaves a few loose ends by the time the film ends.

With this being such an emotionally driven film, it is important for it to be well cast with strong actors. Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush, Straw Dogs) plays Jessie. What makes her performance so powerful is how Bosworth shows the struggle a mother goes through after losing a child. She clearly wants to be a good mother to her adoptive son, but the pull to see her dead child in the boy’s dreams is too seductive to ignore. Initially it makes you dislike Jessie, but Bosworth manages to make her a sympathetic character as the plot progresses. Another equally strong performance comes from Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) as the adopted son, Cody. Tremblay yet again proves he is a fantastic actor, despite his very young age. He portrays a very complex character who knows the effects of his own dreams and fears what his strange ability will do to others. These two actors together make for some exceptional and emotional scenes.

A film like this would be nearly impossible to create without the use of CGI. For the most part, the CGI is beautifully done. There is one specific scene where the butterflies that Cody typically dreams about combine with Christmas lights to create fantastical and stunningly gorgeous imagery. It is when the nightmares come out that the CGI doesn’t hold up quite as well. Cody’s main nightmare is a terrifying creature who eats people. For this, the filmmakers layered CGI over an actor. While in the dark this figure is frightening, in the light it doesn’t have quite the same impact. It is the kind of creature that would be more frightening left in the shadows. However, when the origin of this creature is discovered it ends up making sense why the filmmakers chose to show it in the light.

Before I Wake is a victim of circumstance. It had a lot of buzz when the trailers were first released, but the continued delays likely made fans forget about the film over time. The film has a unique premise with beautiful imagery and strong performances. The plot can be a bit over-sentimental, leading to a few glaring plot holes in the final act, but it is still fascinating to watch. It would be interesting to see if the film would have been received differently if it had been released as planned back in 2015. While it isn’t Flanagan’s strongest work, it is definitely worth a watch.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10

The Ritual

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A group of four friends reunite to remember their friend who was killed. They hike into the mountains of Sweden, doing something they know he would have loved. On the way back they decide to take a shortcut through the woods. A storm leaves them stranded overnight in a strange abandoned cabin where they find something that shakes them to the core. The men soon realize they are not alone in these woods.

The Ritual stands out as a fantastic horror film because, despite it being absolutely chilling, it is primarily a character driven film. The inciting incident is the tragic death of a friend. One man blames himself for his friend’s death, and he feels that the others in their group blame him too. The relationships between the four surviving friends are truly fantastic. They all have amazing chemistry, while also maintaining a heightened tension when it comes to who is to blame for the death. As things get worse for them in the woods those tensions only continue to grow. The sometimes volatile relationships between the friends makes for some dramatic and fascinating events when they have to rely on each other in order to survive.

The mythology in this film is dark, mysterious, and very original. Much of it is taken from ancient Norse mythology, and quite a bit the filmmakers created on their own. While some of this mythology will be familiar, the strange altar the friends come across and the entity they encounter in the climax is something entirely new. The filmmakers manage to give audiences something fresh, which is desperately needed on the more mainstream side of horror. The newness of the evil also makes the scares that much more intense as the audience doesn’t know what to expect. The gorgeous cinematography and fantastic score only add to the feeling of dread and fear throughout the film. Watching it somehow makes you feel the unnerving isolation of being lost in the forest, while also making sure you know there is something out there you do not want to meet. The filmmakers also go for the more subtle, buildable scares rather than jump scares. It lends perfectly to the eerie ambience of the film. While this is only the second feature length film directed by David Bruckner, with a few short segments from horror anthologies, he clearly has mastered his craft.

There are several familiar faces in The Ritual, and all of them give outstanding performances. Rafe Spall (Hot Fuzz, Prometheus) has arguably the most powerful performance as the troubled Luke. He clearly blames himself for not coming to the rescue and saving his fallen friend. Spall perfectly conveys Luke’s inner turmoil and why he is even more determined to save his friends in the woods. Asher Ali (The Missing, Doctor Who) plays Phil, who seems to be one of the worst effected when the group stays overnight in the cabin. He feels fear, or at least shows it the most, more than anyone else. Ali does an amazing job of making the audience feel his terror. Hutch is played by Robert James-Collier (Downton Abbey, The Level). Hutch establishes himself early as the leader of the group, and he also often acts as the peacekeeper. James-Collier exudes confidence and determination, even when his character is faced with the worst. Finally, there is Sam Troughton (AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Robin Hood) as Dom. Troughton portrays Dom as a bit of a jerk. He is the most outspoken about blaming Luke for their friend’s death, and he is the most outspoken when it comes to complaining as they all try to find their way out of the woods. Together these four actors create compelling characters who have complicated relationships.

This film has some of the most striking, yet simple, imagery I have seen in a long time. The filmmakers opted for a combination of practical and CGI effects, depending on the scene and the focus. The practical effects are very well done, and they create some of the more subtly disturbing images. The CGI, surprisingly, is what shines in this film. I won’t go into too much detail, because you should truly see it for yourself, but the creature design in this film is absolutely stunning and horrifying all at once. It stands out in my mind as one of the most original and beautiful things I have seen in a horror movie in recent memory. It is the kind of design where every time you see it you notice something new and terrible that you hadn’t noticed before. It is so spectacular it is easy to forget it is CGI. What makes the creature even more powerful is what it represents in the film which is, similar to the creature in The Babadook, guilt and how a person deals with that guilt.

The Ritual is a character-driven film that takes four friends down a sinister and unearthly path. The way the characters are written, and how they are acted, grounds the story as it spirals further away from what we know as real. It has beautiful cinematography and music that only adds to the eerie nature of the film. Then, of course, there is the creature design that is sure to be a highlight for horror fans. Between the acting and the CGI creature, it is difficult to determine what the best aspect of this film is. Whichever you choose, this film is likely to be a favorite horror film this year and beyond.

OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10

The Shape of Water

shape of water

In the 1960’s a mute janitor, Elisa, works nights at a government research facility. She goes through the same lonely routine day after day, only able to communicate with her two closest friends, until the facility acquires a new “asset.” This asset is a strange and beautiful aquatic creature, as mysterious as it is dangerous. When Elisa forms a bond with the creature she decides that she must do anything she can to save his life.

Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak) is one of the most visionary writer/directors of our time. He is known for creating haunting films that are as strikingly beautiful as they are fascinating. While his credits include a number of fantastic films, The Shape of Water may be the most breathtaking film he has ever created. The plot seems to combine elements that display del Toro’s passions: classic film, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and people who are considered “different” who find love and acceptance in each other. The influence of The Creature From the Black Lagoon is the most apparent aspect of the film. Del Toro himself has stated that it was his inspiration for the plot. What is more subtle is how del Toro injects his love of old Hollywood cinema into the film. Not only does Elisa reside above a movie theater, but she is often shown watching old black and white films with her neighbor and friend, Giles. Yet, it is the feeling of being an outsider, and finding others who feel the same, that is the focus of the film.

Elisa is not only mute, but she is an orphan as well. She is an outsider and spends much of her time alone. Her only two friends are also outsiders for a number of reasons; Zelda, who is a black woman in a time when that made you an outcast, and Giles, who is also an outcast in his own way. Their mutual loneliness brought them together as friends, and it is also what draws Elisa to the creature. She doesn’t see him as a monster. He is simply another outsider in need of companionship. This premise is something that many people can relate to in some capacity. The friendship that grows between Elisa and the creature makes the heart swell.

The entire cast of The Shape of Water delivers outstanding performances, from the leading lady down to fleeting roles that only last a few minutes. Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Never Let Me Go) is absolutely stunning as Elisa. Expressing strong emotion is difficult without a voice, but Hawkins does it perfectly. In a particularly powerful scene Elisa is desperately trying to explain to Giles why she has to save the creature. Watching Hawkins emotionally use sign-language to express her explanation is utterly heart-wrenching. Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) is also fantastic as the creature. Jones and del Toro have done many projects together, and Jones is known for his work as various strange beings that involve full body and face prosthetics. Much like Hawkins, Jones has to emote without the use of a voice, but he has the further disadvantage of not having a human face either. Still, Jones finds a way to push the emotion through the costume. Not surprisingly, Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Nocturnal Animals) delivers a very disturbing performance as Richard Strickland, the man who captured the creature and brought it to the facility. A common theme of this film is that humans are often the true monsters, and Shannon gives audiences a monster they can truly despise. While they have somewhat smaller roles, it is just as important to state how great the group was who makes up the remaining “outsiders” in the film: Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Help) as Zelda, Richard Jenkins (Cabin in the Woods, Let Me In) as Giles, and Michael Stuhlbarg (Boardwalk Empire, A Serious Man) as Dr. Hoffstetler.

As with most of del Toro’s work, The Shape of Water is visually exquisite. The creature design alone is absolutely gorgeous. There is clear inspiration from the look in Creature From the Black Lagoon, but del Toro made the creature much more sleek and beautiful. The prosthetics blend so well with the CGI of the creature, creating a striking and realistic being. Along with the creature design, del Toro also made each scene stand out with distinct color palettes. Via Twitter, del Toro explained the meaning behind each color choice made in the film. He explains that Elisa’s apartment and things in her world are the cyans and blues of water, while the homes of other characters are the warm tones of gold and amber. The color red is for “cinema, life, and love,” which is apparent in the red drapes in the movie theater and how Elisa wears more and more red during the film as she gets closer to the creature. Green is used to represent the future. It is a prevalent color in the government lab, fancy new cars, and other items of the future. These deliberate choices add meaning in places it would not normally be found, as well as elegance. These choices allow del Toro to achieve a truly breathtaking aesthetic throughout the film.

The Shape of Water may be the most stunning film I have ever seen. Visually, it draws you in with gorgeous creature design and fascinating use of colors. The performances are absolutely outstanding, and the characters are fascinating. The story del Toro creates in this film is one of being an outsider, and finding others who feel the same and creating an intense, strong bond. I rarely watch a film where I wouldn’t change a thing, and I virtually never give out perfect scores for films. The Shape of Water is an exception, as I wouldn’t change a thing, and it is wholly deserving of a perfect score. The Shape of Water is a film that people will be talking about for years to come.

OVERALL RATING: 10/10